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OVERVIEW

The Big Bend Minority Chamber of Commerce (BBMC) was created out of a need to bring attention and support to women-owned and minority-owned businesses in a five-county region that is geographically considered part of the Big Bend area of central north Florida.  The five counties are: Leon, Gadsden, Wakulla, Franklin and Jefferson.

Founded in November of 2012, the Big Bend Minority Chamber of Commerce seeks to strengthen and infuse the local economic and entrepreneurial ecosystems by providing the support needed to empower, stimulate, grow and sustain business enterprises owned and operated by women and minorities.  The BBMC works to fill the gaps in opportunities for these targeted groups by providing a comprehensive menu of programs and services.

VISION

Our vision is of a community where any individual desiring to grow an idea, start a business, or sell a business, will find themselves immersed in robust and vibrant economic and political ecosystems where all of the keys to successful pursuit and achievement of their commerce goals are consistently made available to them without delay; from beginning to end; however long or short that may be.

MISSION

The BBMC has a mission to stimulate grassroots economic growth and development for minority-owned and women-owned businesses in the north Florida region that it serves.  To this end, the BBMC Board of Directors and professional staff work aggressively to build and sustain relationships in business and industry at the local, regional and national levels in an effort to expand and strengthen the network of support for entrepreneurs, small business owners, and the targeted populations the organization seeks to serve.

STRATEGY

The Big Bend Minority Chamber of Commerce seeks to realize the organization’s vision and mission through the employment of a three-pronged strategy that embraces ADVOCACY, TRAINING & DEVELOPMENT, and ECONOMIC OPPORTUNITY.

Through our advocacy efforts, the BBMC supports legislation at the city, county, state and federal levels that support and expand our aggressive efforts to utilize a variety of platforms to speak on behalf of women-owned and minority-owned businesses and our stakeholders who take up these same causes.

Of great benefit to our members are the training and development programs that provide workshops, speakers, networking opportunities, small-circle discussions, industry highlights, small business panels, and other tools that are so useful to the entrepreneur and small business book reviews, and other The BBMC supports legislation at the city, county, state and federal levels that provides resources and support for entrepreneurial and small business education and training in a variety of venues and platforms accessible to any and all but especially for minority and women business owners.

Some call it economic development, we called it ‘matchmaking’; that is, connecting members to opportunities that will help them grow their businesses.  Whether it’s a simple referral, serving as the liaison for a meeting between a member and a potential investor, or planning events where matching businesses to businesses is the order of the day, the professional team at the BBMC want to help make those connections for our members.

CHAIRMAN'S MESSAGE

The entrepreneurial movement that is sweeping America isn’t new.  History shows for African Americans, women, and other minorities, entrepreneurism and small business ownership have always been a reliable pathway to economic freedom, community sustainability, family cohesiveness, and realization of dreams that might otherwise be deferred. 

For these populations, the Big Bend Minority Chamber of Commerce is a thought leader and a beacon of knowledge, and, as such, it is our responsibility to light the pathway by providing sensible guidance and informed support. 

I remain convinced that there is a need for our services.  I continue to hear from hard-working, tax-paying men and women who are educated, resourceful, determined and smart…but could seriously use some help.  They would neither ask for nor accept handouts and giveaways, but when they make concerted efforts to secure help from the established ecosystem…they still seem to fall short. 

At the BBMC, we know that when small businesses thrive, the entire community thrives.  We believe in building wealth, and we know that small business ownership is one way to get there.  We encourage our members to be bold, courageous and informed as they construct success strategies for their enterprises.  And we help give them the tools so they can do more than simply exist.  We want them to thrive. 

Our purpose today is the same purpose that inspired me to organize the BBMC back in the fall of 2012; to help level the playing field for woman-owned and minority-owned businesses (i.e., populations that are often the most vulnerable, most under-served, and at high risk) by providing advocacy, information and guidance. 

My Chamber.  My Choice.  My Voice.

PRESIDENT'S MESSAGE

I remember seeing a tiny announcement in a November 2012 edition of the Tallahassee Democrat newspaper about the formation of a chamber for minority and women business owners.  I clipped the brief, posted it to my office bulletin board, and made a mental note to eventually join.

Like many small business owners, I was working a full-time job during the day and using weeknights and weekends to chase my dream of building a successful marketing company.  So frustrating!  One year my sales would be up, the next year, down.  At the same time, the demands on my full-time, bills-paying job often required long hours of work from me that often extended into the evenings and weekends; robbing me of the time I needed to work on my enterprise.  The volatility made it impractical for me to take that giant leap into the life of a real business owner.

By the time I joined the BBMC in May of 2013 I was sorely in need of something that could help me figure out a realistic strategy for me to get my enterprise going.  My entrepreneurial clock was ticking and I was ready to flee the bills-paying workplace in exchange for the life of a full-time business owner.  I knew in my heart that if I could ‘get situated’ (a term my mother often used), I would be successful.  But I needed support.

What I have found at the Big Bend Minority Chamber of Commerce is a very young and ambitious organization, being led by some incredibly smart and experienced people, whose lives reflect the same multi-faceted and demanding balancing act as mine.  Oddly enough, I wasn’t turned off by that reflection.  Instead, I was (and continue to be) motivated and inspired by the passion, the camaraderie, the determination, and the intelligence.  It’s great to be part of something with others who believe what I believe.

We’ve come a long way at the BBMC, but we’ve still got a long way to go.  What I can promise each and every member, friend, and stakeholder is that my commitment to this organization is real.  I will continue to work hard to help build this much-needed network of support for people like me who need it the most.

My chamber.  My choice.  My voice.

BOARD OF DIRECTORS

We have brought together an outstanding leadership team of business leaders who are committed to helping bridge economic, technological and information gaps, by taking a grassroots approach to servicing and supporting participating minority businesses.
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    SEAN PITTMAN

     FOUNDER AND CHAIRMAN
    Pittman Law Group, P.L.

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    LILA JABER

    VICE-CHAIR
    Gunster Law Firm

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    ANTONIO JEFFERSON

    TREASURER/RECORDING SECRETARY
    City of Gretna, City Manager

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    CHUCK CLYBURN

    Sr. Vice-President, Xerox

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    JOHN GRAYSON

    Grayson Accounting

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    HOLLY HENDERSON

    Gulf Power

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    GINA KINCHLOW

    BBMC Interim
    President & CEO

    Kinchlow & Co, PCS

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    HAROLD KNOWLES

    Knowles & Randolph

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    WALT MCNEIL

    Sheriff
    Leon County

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    JIM MURDAUGH

    President
    Tallahassee Community College

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    JOHN THOMAS

    Emeritus

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    R. SCOTT VEDDER

    President/CEO
    The Vedder Group
    Northwestern Mutual

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    ALAN WILLIAMS

    MW Land Investments, President